Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

Your daily jolt: Bloody Marys, stogies dropped from Senate lunch menu

By tradition, Coca-Cola has served as the corporate sponsor of a luncheon honoring the president pro tem of the state Senate at the opening of each year’s session.

Also by tradition, the menu has included Bloody Marys and cigars. But no more. We’re told that both alcohol and stogies have been removed from this afternoon’s festivities honoring David Shafer, R-Duluth, the Senate’s newly elected leader.

The reason? The flourishes were thought to clash with the Capitol’s embrace of ethics reform, including a $100 per lawmaker cap on gifts from lobbyists passed by the Senate on Monday.

Or perhaps it was fallout from Coke’s new anti-obesity campaign. Either one.

Speaking of ethics, here’s the exchange that just took place between House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle at this morning’s Eggs & Issues breakfast, sponsored by the Georgia Chamber. My AJC colleague Greg Bluestein said Cagle had just finished bragging about the Senate’s approval of a $100 cap on gifts …

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Why the Atlanta stadium debate remains alive: Location, location, location

The latest Journal-Constitution poll now measures opposition to a new, $1 billion version of the Georgia Dome – and a new home for the Atlanta Falcons, its chief tenant – at 72 percent of all Georgians.

That level of unpopularity shouldn’t shock you. But you might be surprised by the fact that, despite an approval rating only slightly better than that of Congress, the issue will be very much alive when the Legislature opens this week.

State lawmakers will be asked to approve $300 million in public funding, through a hotel-motel tax on visitors to Atlanta. Mayor Kasim Reed remains confident of success. Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston are less so, but neither has closed the door on the project.

Such a situation is sure to breed cynicism. Politicians doing the bidding of billionaire Falcons-owner Arthur Blank, one jaded voice in your head is saying. Another directs your attention to the much-vaunted friendship between the mayor of Atlanta and the governor.

But …

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Your daily jolt: Brandon Beach to replace Chip Rogers in Senate

Two months and change after a harsh defeat at the hands of Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock, north Fulton chamber executive Brandon Beach on Tuesday took Rogers’ seat, putting a quick end to a lightning fast campaign.

Results in two other contests — even though one remains unfinished — guarantee Republicans 38 seats in the 56-member Senate. That’s an official super-majority, though it won’t be achieved until one runoff, for the District 11 seat in south Georgia, is held on Feb. 5.

In the hottest contest of the evening, Beach beat former state Rep. Sean Jerguson, R-Holly Springs, a gun shop owner, with nearly 58 percent of all ballots cast in a special election that followed Rogers’ December decision to take a job with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Beach apparently benefitted from a 2012 campaign that never really ended. One edge: a 3-to-1 ratio in advanced, in-person ballots that were cast, according to the secretary of state’s website. Beach narrowly beat Jerguson (52 …

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Tom Price: The U.S. House needs ‘red state’ leadership

Hours before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tore into House Speaker John Boehner for pulling the plug on Hurricane Sandy aid, a Georgia congressman was getting his licks in from the GOP right.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price was on WMAL in Washington this morning, a conservative talk-radio station aimed at the D.C. elite, to discuss Tuesday’s House vote on the fiscal cliff.

Price voted against the measure and his speaker – as did every GOP member of the House from Georgia. But Price, who becomes vice-chairman of the House Budget Committee in the next Congress, is undoubtedly the most ambitious member of the Georgia delegation. And Boehner is up for re-election tomorrow.

Listen to Price’s interview in full here:

A truncated transcript follows:

Price: “At the end of the day these kinds of bills are never all good or all bad. My assessment was that it ultimately raised taxes and didn’t decrease any spending. In fact it increased spending.”

WMAL: “You voted against your speaker of the …

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Your daily jolt: In Georgia, congressional Republicans split

Each of Georgia’s House Republicans on Tuesday voted to reject the Senate-passed measure to defuse the “fiscal cliff” debacle – highlighting the “yes” votes cast a day earlier by U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss.

Within the delegation, as a matter of courtesy, such splits rarely receive a public mention. But according to Slate, protocol was almost violated after a House GOP caucus meeting, when alternative legislation was still being pondered:

After he left the room, Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston joked that the deal passed only because “it was way past those senators’ bedtimes and they had blurry eyes when they were reading” it. House Republicans? Why, they were “trying to fill in the gaps they might have missed.”

The reply that Isakson and Chambliss can’t make, but would like to: “We don’t have the luxury of designer districts to guarantee our re-election.”

The bill would boost the top 35 percent income tax rate to nearly 40 percent for incomes exceeding $400,000 …

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Your Daily Jolt: ‘Cool but not icy’ Falcons stadium reaction

After the Georgia World Congress Center Authority approved the outline for a new $1 billion downtown stadium for the Falcons on Monday morning, word spread quickly to Athens, where state legislators are holding their biennial summit. The AJC’s Greg Bluestein was on the scene and he described the reaction as “cool but not icy” as he surveyed lawmakers, who would need to vote to approve raising the GWCCA’s debt limit. From Bluestein:

House Speaker David Ralston said the stadium’s supporters need to make a forceful argument about why the new facility is needed – and he doesn’t think they’ve made that argument quite yet.

“This is more than about the Falcons. And because of that, we have to proceed very carefully,” Ralston said. “It’s a tough economic climate and for the state to undertake any sort of investment, I think we have to move cautiously.”

State Rep. Ed Lindsey, an Atlanta Republican and one of the House’s leading lawmakers, said he has to be convinced the stadium meets …

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Your daily jolt: Tom Price for Speaker?

Good morning from inside the Beltway. I’m Daniel Malloy, the DC Correspondent for the AJC and your Insider guest pilot for the next three weeks (or at least until the fiscal cliff drama ends). Galloway handed over the keys reluctantly and made me promise not to scuff it while he’s gone. I’ll do my best. Please send news tips, gripes and corrections to

We begin with a piece from National Review Online’s Robert Costa, impeccably well-sourced in Republican circles, positing a run by Roswell’s own Rep. Tom Price for Speaker of the House if there is a conservative revolt against John Boehner over the fiscal cliff negotiations:

“Price is the person we’re all watching,” says an aide close to House leadership. “We know he’s frustrated, but we don’t know much else.”

In an interview with National Review Online, Price won’t speculate about his future, but he acknowledges his growing uneasiness. “My concern is that within our conference, conservatives, who are a …

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Eliminating the competition in a GOP race for Congress

Updated at 4:55 p.m.: In politics, if there’s anything worse than being attacked, it’s being ignored. A reader down in South Georgia sends us a mailer in which state Rep. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown, assesses his GOP competition in the 12th District congressional race:


As you can see, Anderson runs down both businessman Rick Allen and attorney Wright McLeod for their ties to Democrats. But there are four – not three — Republicans in the contest to oust U.S. Rep. John Barrow, R-Augusta.

Anderson ignores Maria Sheffield of Dublin. No doubt because Anderson and Sheffield are the two non-Augusta candidates in the GOP contest — though as a lawmaker, Anderson represents the northern ‘burbs of that metro area. Both Anderson and Shefffield are also in pursuit of tea party votes.

Both Allen and Wright are complaining that the mailer, which hit 12th District homes on Friday, misrepresents their histories. Here’s a clip on the brouhaha, from NBC26:

Updated: If you watch the video above …

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Austin Scott’s effort to rein in domestic drones

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night in 2010. AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night in 2010. AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth

For the last several months, civil libertarians have watched deadly, unmanned flying drones circle Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen with their unblinking eyes and constantly cocked ears.

What happens, they’ve worried, once that technology follows the U.S. military home?

Last week, farming websites in Iowa and Nebraska were scorched by rumors that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had launched drones over local cattle herds. As things turned out, the surveillance – the EPA was looking for evidence of large deposits of manure entering the water supply – was of the manned Cessna variety.

But it was during this Midwestern uproar that U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, a Republican who represents a large swath of South Georgia farmland, dropped the first piece of legislation designed to restrict the use of government-operated drones over American …

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An evening to remember: You, Neil Diamond and Tom Price

The musical portfolio of U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, keeps growing and growing.

Earlier this month, we found out that Price had been to a Jimi Hendrix concert in ’69, and still has the ticket.

But the man gets ever wilder. Tonight, it’s Neil Diamond. Politico reports that Price has built a fund-raising operation for his political action committee, Voice for Freedom, around a series of concerts at Washington’s Verizon Center.

After this evening’s Diamond concert comes Coldplay, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks and Madonna. The per-ticket cost is $1,500, with a pair for $2,500. For $5,000, Price will let you wave his encore lighter. For $6,000, he promises not stand on his seat and to shout “Freebird!”

Politico offers more details here.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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